Dad and daughter move on, in mom's memory

'This is a love story'

CINCINNATI -- A picture is worth 1,000 words.

And Ben Nunery says his photos tell a love story.

Ben and his wife, Ali, purchased their first home in Cincinnati the day before their wedding. Ben says the couple poured their hearts and souls into making the lifelong home "their own."

And then, they got the news.

Ali, the 31-year-old teacher, was informed she had a rare form of lung cancer.

In 2011, just one year after the birth of their daughter, Olivia, Ali passed away.

Ben describes  in his blog the last two years since Ali's death as a "roller coaster of emotions" that have left him wondering how he's managed to "piece together anything that resembles a normal and happy life."

As time passed, Ben has decided to move out of the home that he and Ali had tried so hard to make their own. But upon leaving the home, Ben wanted to do something special in memory of Ali.
His sister-in-law, Melanie Pace , is a professional photographer who shot Ben and Ali's original wedding photos. Ben asked Melanie if she would be willing to re-create the wedding photos, but this time with Olivia in Ali's place.
"I wanted a way to say goodbye to the house and something we all could look at, especially that Olivia could look at as she gets older," Ben said to WCPO the only interviews the family did with media.
"It was fun and strange and sad and comforting and just about every other emotion you can think of," said Ben of the photo shoot. 

"It all happened in a blur, but those images represent some of the happiest moments in my life," said Ben. "These would be the last memories in that house."

Olivia and Ben both felt Ali was there with them in the home during the photo shoot, smiling with them.

"She was able to maintain that spirit that everyone loves about her," Ben said about Ali's everlasting positivity.

"I'm so used to Ali making herself present. Literally every single day there's something that happens to me that she lets herself be known. and I wrote on the blog about feathers. I will be in bed and this teeny little feather will (appear)," Pace said.

Olivia, now 3 years old, took her mother's place in the photos along side her father. Ben says he had a different partner in these photos, but one "just as beautiful."

The photo shoot was intended to re-create a memory for Ben and Olivia, and so that he would have something to show for "the love and beauty that occupied that house."

"Since Melanie posted the photos on her blog, many people have asked me how I felt while doing that photo session. What I want them to know is that this isn’t a story about grief and loss and hurt. Yes, I’ve gone through those emotions and still do but that’s not what I want people to see in these photos," Ben said.

"Our lives will continue down a curvy and uncertain path but Olivia and I will be able to look at these photos and know that for a short time there was a place where I was the luckiest man in the world, even if just for a little while," Ben wrote in his blog.

As for Ben and Olivia, they move forward with their lives always remembering the life they shared with Ali in their first home -- here in Cincinnati.

"This is a love story," said Ben.

A great story, one he will never forget.



To see more of the photos, click here .

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